Many car accidents happen a low speeds, such as crashes in parking lots or private property. If you were rear-ended at a traffic light or stop sign, you could suffer a concussion or a back, neck or spine injury.
No visible damage to your vehicle does not mean that an accident never happened or that the other driver is not at a fault. Sometimes near misses or no-contact car accidents can cause damage or injury.
It is important to note that Florida is a no-fault state. This means that each person’s insurance company pays for their own damages in an accident. This is true regardless of who was at fault.
If an accident causes you more damage or injury than the limits of your policy, you may have the right to take legal action for additional damages by filing a lawsuit.
Eggshell Skull Rule Protects You
The eggshell skull rule is a longtime common law legal doctrine that holds that a wrongdoer takes the victim in the condition he/she finds him. You do not get a break on liability or damages just because the person hurt was already in a weakened state. In other words, if you were in a low-impact rear end collision, but already suffered from back or neck problems, the person that hit you could be liable to pay you for a large amount of damages if the impact made your injury worse.
The reason why this doctrine is called “eggshell skull” is that if you have a very fragile skull, made of egg shells, and someone drops a book on it, they are liable for all of the damage, even if you are disabled or in a weakened state.
Essentially, it does not matter that you were already injured, all that matters for recover is that you are injured in the particular incident.
This has been affirmed numerous times in past case law, and Florida Standard Civil Jury Instruction 401.12 expressly states that negligence need not be the only cause of an injury to be considered the legal cause. Negligence can be the legal cause of a loss, injury, or damage – even though it operated in combination with the act of someone else, a natural cause, or some other cause, so long as the negligence substantially contributing to producing the loss, injury or damage.
Beyond this, Florida Standard Civil Jury Instruction 501.5 talks about how aggravation or activation of a pre-existing disease or defect plays into the question of damages in personal injury cases. If jurors in an injury lawsuit find that defendant’s actions caused a bodily injury that resulted in aggravation or activation of an existing disease or defect, they are to decide what portion of the claimant’s condition resulted from activation/activation – and then award only those damages stemming from that. Further, if evidence is presented that the plaintiff was injured in two different events and the one involving the defendant came later, jurors are supposed to try to separate the damages caused by the two events and award damages only caused by the defendant. But if they cannot separate the two, jurors are supposed to award damages for the entire condition suffered.
With that being said, these are very complicated cases and require a skilled attorney to litigate, along with quickly procuring data. Do not hesitate to contact our firm to speak to an experienced attorney.